Halloween in Australia is not a tradition in the way it is in the UK, Europe and the United States, yet it has managed to gain substantial popularity in the last few decades. The holiday itself is based either on the Pagan festival of Samhain or the eve of the Christian All Hallow’s Day – depending on who you ask – although the images we most commonly see come from the commercial holiday in America.
While many Australians resent the idea of adopting another non-native holiday, those of us who love to cook and bake are more than ready to expand our repertoires with some scarily scrumptious recipes, even if we don’t go in for the trick-or-treating.
Scary Face Pies
This savoury pie is perfect for dinner parties and lunchboxes alike. You can add whichever type of minced meat you like, and could even get the kids to help you with the faces in an alternative to pumpkin carving.
- Tablespoon olive oil
- Two cloves crushed garlic
- 500g minced meat
- Two medium onions
- Two tablespoons tomato paste
- Two beef stock cubes made into stock
- Teaspoon of Vegemite
- Tablespoon white wine
- Salt & Pepper
- Two teaspoons cornflour
- A beaten egg
- Shortcrust pastry
You may be able to tell already, but this is basically a traditional meat pie.
Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Pour in the mince and cook for five minutes until brown. Add the tomato paste, Vegemite, stock, white wine and salt and pepper, then cook for another five minutes until some of the moisture has come off. Mix the teaspoons of cornflour with two teaspoons of water, then add this to the pan, and cook until thick on a low heat.
Whilst your filling cools, make your pie cases by lining muffin tins with shortcrust pastry, then use a cookie cutter to cut round pieces of pastry for lids. You can have fun with these now – cut out scary faces, symbols or even just initials, it’s a blank slate. You will have no trouble finding stencils on the internet, just make sure that at least half of the pastry remains on the pie.
When the meat has cooled, scoop a couple of tablespoons into each pastry cup and then cover with your scary face lid. Brush with the beaten egg and then cook at 180c for ten minutes until the lid looks shiny and golden. You could alternatively freeze the pies for later, but if cooking from frozen the time needs to be closer to half an hour.
Okay, so these may really just be empanadas, but you can easily make them fit the theme by cutting them out in bat, pumpkin or ghost shapes!
- An egg
- 120ml cold water
- 170g cold, unsalted butter
- 360g plain flour
- Teaspoon salt
- Filling of your choice
Beat the egg and water together: in a separate bowl, cut butter chunks into flour and salt. Mix the two bowls together and knead into a smooth dough ball, then wrap it in clingfilm to cool in the fridge for an hour. Once chilled, roll the dough out on a flat surface and cut out some solid Halloween shapes. Spoon your filling (this could be another meat pie filling, vegetables or even jam) onto one side, then cover with the other piece, sealing the edges with a fork.
You can either deep-fry or pan-fry the empanadas until golden on the outside, then try to resist eating them till they’ve cooled!
For a more adult but still-themed treat, these are easy-peasy. If you feel like indulging your more decorative side, top them with spiders by cutting a black olive in two, using half for the body and cutting the remainder into its legs.
- Six eggs
- 60 grams mayonnaise
- Teaspoon white vinegar
- Teaspoon mustard
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Smoked paprika
Hard boil all of the eggs first, then rinse under water before cracking the shells. Cut the eggs in half and scoop out the yolk, trying not to break the whites which can go straight onto a plate.
Mash the yolks with a fork until they crumble, and add the mayonnaise and seasoning, mixing very well. Heap teaspoons of the yolk mixture back onto the whites, then sprinkle with paprika and serve.
Depending on who you talk to, Halloween is either a fun excuse to watch horror movies and dress up or it’s a commercial holiday promoting the over-consumption of sweets. Whichever way you lean, I think we can all agree that it’s a great opportunity to try something a little different in the kitchen, whether the kids help or not!